Last night about 30 kilometers north of here 10,000 demonstrators gathered at the Qalandia checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah – except for a few incidents it was peaceful. This a significant amount and the Gaza war is unifying Palestinians. Some say this is the beginning of a new intifada (uprising)?
First, they do so by staying put and surviving. They live, work, try to have a business and educate their children. Almost everyone has family in the States, Canada or Europe, yet they choose to remain part of Palestine. Most have 2,000+ year roots. They love this place, it is home and it will stay that way, no matter how impossible Israel works to move them off the land.
Secondly, they are trying to reclaim their culture, which was torn from them in 1948, during the Nakba. Their books were stolen, historic relics sold off or burned. They are working to understand who they are as a people. For the last 60 years they have, by attrition, come under the cultural thumb of Israel and have forgotten how to express themselves. They don’t know how to boycott Israeli products because they are dependent, brain- washed into believing that they must have them. The younger generation is getting it.
Thirdly, they are joining grassroots, peace organizations, proclaiming non-violence. This is courageous, to feel empowered rather than helpless, at the mercy of an occupying power. I have seen some of these, but there are 100’s. Their courage doesn’t deny the reality or consequence of what they are living with and works to productively manage, channel their fear that can give them hope. Churches work with kids spiritually, which includes peace-building.
Fourthly, they tell their stories. They tell their children about being forced from home in 1948 and 1967. They write plays, form dance troupes to tell of the drama of their existence. Histories are being written, movements are creating informative narratives. If their stories are not told and cherished, memories will fade away.
They are a resilient people, they will stand. They have help too, from many Israeli individuals, peace groups, soldiers who are willing to tell the truth, and of course many from the West, East and South. This all is active, non-violent resistance.